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System for Interpreting Marseilles Minors

I have recently begun to work with historical tarot decks, more specifically the group called the Tarot of Marseilles. The Major Arcana and Court Cards are pictorial and therefore fairly easily read. The challenge comes from the Minor Arcana, which are not pictorially illustrated. The 2 of Cups only shows 2 cups on it although there are also some flowers and decorative elements. This makes it necessary for the reader to use their own system, which often involves combining numerological meanings with suit meanings. For example, the number 7 has a specific meaning, which becomes even more specific when the 7 is expressed in Batons/Fire. These meanings can then by modified by an intuitive reading of the decorative floral elements.

Below is the personal system I am working on for interpreting non-pictorially illustrated minor arcana. I must stress that this system is very much under construction. Meanings will be modified as my practice progresses. That being said, I nonetheless hope that you enjoy seeing my primary forays into this fascinating subject.

Number Individual Card Grouping Related Major Pair
1 Impulse Impulse Le Bataleur
La Force
2 Awareness La Papesse
Le Pendu
3 Understanding L'Imperatrice
4 Impulse
Manifestation of Impulse
Awareness L'Empereur
La Temperance
5 Awareness Le Pape
Le Diable
6 Understanding L'Amoureux
La Maison Dieu
7 Impulse
Manifestation of Awareness
Understanding Le Chariot
8 Awareness La Justice
La Lune
9 Understanding L'Hermite
Le Soleil
10 Manifestation
(of Understanding)
Manifestation Le Roue De Fortune
Le Jugement



  1. Raw element, urge, impulse
  2. Learning, first contact with the other, limitation of options
  3. Understanding, planning, proceeding, “getting it”
  4. Solidity, acting accordingly in the world, feeling that there is something more
  5. Recognition that the other is larger than you thought, making rules and philosophies, need to explain and give reasons
  6. Evaluation of rules and processes, what does and does not work
  7. Moving to a new level or ending it, decision-making, urge to use awareness to manipulate events to your purpose
  8. Experimentation and observation, seeing one’s place in the universe and deciding how best to use it
  9. Understanding how it all works and being able to show others, personal gnosis
  10. Manifestation in the world, affects all parts of your life, seed of an entirely new impulse

Copyright K. Mayberry. Not to be used without permission.

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